"The Senate unanimously passed a resolution yesterday apologizing for slavery, making way for a joint congressional resolution and the latest attempt by the federal government to take responsibility for 2 1/2 centuries of slavery.
"You wonder why we didn't do it 100 years ago," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), lead sponsor of the resolution, said after the unanimous-consent vote. "It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice."
The Senate's apology follows a similar apology passed last year by the House. One key difference is that the Senate version explicitly deals with the long-simmering issue of whether slavery descendants are entitled to reparations, saying that the resolution cannot be used in support of claims for restitution. The House is expected to revisit the issue next week to conform its resolution to the Senate version.
Harkin, who called the Senate's vote an "important and significant milestone," said he wanted the resolution passed yesterday to closely coincide with Juneteenth, a holiday first celebrated by former slaves to mark their emancipation.
This recent willingness to deal with the nation's difficult racial history has come about in part because of President Obama's election, said Rep. Stephen I. Cohen (D-Tenn.), who began pushing for an apology more than a decade ago when he was a state senator and pronounced himself "pleased" with the Senate vote.
Still, Cohen said, "there are going to be African Americans who think that [the apology] is not reparations, and it's not action, and there are going to be Caucasians who say, 'Get over it.' . . . I look at it as something that makes people think."I've never owned any slaves. Well, being of Italian...Sicilian to be most accurate...ancestry, it is entirely possible that going back 22 centuries or thereabouts might reveal an indentured servituder in the woodpile, so for that I'm really bummed and totally sorry. Totally.
The arabs that were running the slave trade in Africa back when the U.S. was buying, didn't of course feature negroes as their only product. And since Sicily isn't much more than a stones throw from what once was one of their bases of operations, Sicilians by the bucketload were kidnapped and sold, going back those 22 centuries or thereabouts. Then again, pretty much everyone can trace some form of slavery to their genetic timeline, so I think its only fair for the arabs and africans and even the octaroon's and mulatto's to get together and publish a formal apology for buying and selling their own folks as well as collaring ancestors of the rest of us, too.
And speaking of "reparations", I'll take mine with 22 centuries of interest thank you very much. But being a patriotic American who has forever worked for a living and offered gobs of flesh and blood for the right to strut my freedom stuff, you can just send the check to the general accounting office to help pay off the national debt. I encourage everyone within the sound of my cyber voice to do the same, and darned if we couldn't put a dent in alla that spending King Obo The First is forcing down our throats.